Plan for IPTO split from PPC finalized

A detailed plan mapping out the split of IPTO, the power grid operator, from parent company PPC, the main power utility, has been finalized.

It was decided, at a meeting held yesterday between energy minister Panos Skourletis and lender representatives, to ratify legislation for the plan within May. This bill will replace a previous plan for the sale of a 66 percent stake of IPTO.

Instead, a 51 percent share of IPTO will be transferred to the Greek State, while the other 49 percent will be sold to private-sector investors. An equity share of at least 29 percent of IPTO will be offered to a strategic investor and the rest to institutional investors through the Athens Stock Exchange.

The IPTO plan’s legislation will include details concerning the compensation package for PPC. Energy ministry sources ruled out any possibility of IPTO’s full privatization, as had been initially requested.

Once the IPTO plan’s legislation has been ratifed, an announcement inviting investors to submit bids will be made in June. The procedure’s progress will be assessed in October. It will need to be finalized by the end of 2016.

Meanwhile, on another front, a proposal for the NOME-type auctions – to provide third parties with access to PPC’s low-cost lignite and hydropower sources as part of the bailout-related obligation to help break the utility’s dominance – will be forwarded by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, based on data provided by LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator. Then, the signing of a ministerial decision, signaling the go-ahead, is planned for the middle of the year.

At the current negotiations with the lenders, Greek officials, according to sources, reiterated that they regard the NOME auction plan as an intermediate tool in the effort to reduce PPC’s dominant market share. The utility’s prospective partnerships with private-sector enterprises will serve as the key tool in achieving this objective, the local officials told lenders.

According to government sources, Italian, Israeli, Russian, and US firms are expressing interest to establish partnerships with PPC. The same sources noted that Skourletis, the energy minister, would meet with the head of Italy’s Edison, Roberto Potti.

Officials of ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), Edison and Ellaktor, enterprises already active in the Greek electricity retail market through their Elpedison venture, have already held a series of meetings with PPC in search of a formula for a possible partnership.

It remains unclear whether an alternative plan will be included in the IPTO agreement, should the current plan fail to be implemented. In this event, lenders want a 40 percent share of PPC’s production units to be sold and 34 percent of the utility to be transferred to TAIPED, the State Privatization Fund.

Greek officials and the country’s lenders have resumed negotiations in search of an agreement by this Friday’s Eurogroup meeting.